Buy These Customized Vintage T-Shirts To Support Women's Rights
Undeniably, we are living in a major moment of political unrest with a great many Americans feeling like they're losing the government support and protection they had during the previous administration. For those individuals, the battle seems increasingly uphill, but something unexpectedly positive has come out of this fight: many people in positions of influence are using what power they have to speak up, and they're putting their money where their mouths are.
For small independent businesses, giving back can sometimes be a stretch, but lately so many are committed to doing what they can to make sure causes including women's reproductive rights, homelessness, and immigrant protection stay financially supported. Two local vintage vendors, Toni Walker of Fair Season and Valerie Werner Longo of Love Faustine, came up with an idea to customize vintage/deadstock tees and sweatshirts with messages of resistance and equality, and give a portion of proceeds to charities including Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. We got to learn a little bit about why these causes are so important to the women and what the messages mean to them.
What prompted you to create these pieces?
TW: It was right before the inauguration. I was feeling a lot of things: angry, terrified, helpless. I wanted to find a way to do something. A while back I had flagged a picture of embroidered sweatshirts by @ivyivyivyivy because I loved her hand-done chain stitch and the messages that she was using. I sent her an email about doing a Nasty Woman tee, she responded with a big yes right away, so we got started.
VWL: I felt that I needed a way to channel my anger into something more positive. I had been wanting to start repurposing vintage tees for a while, by silk screening and embroidering on them to sell and this gave me the push to finally do it. I decided to make the tees with the sole purpose to give back to the charities I cared most about and the programs that Trump would be defunding. Once I had made that decision, I began to meet more women who were doing the same thing, turning their anger into creative energy and using it to build something beautiful that could help others.
Can each of you speak to the charities you've selected to donate to and why you picked it?
VWL: My decision was to support women both locally and nationally, with each Choose Love tee sold, I give 15% to Planned Parenthood and 5% to the Downtown Women's Center. There continues to be an unending amount of charities in need of support, but my passion has always been supporting women in need. At 17, I turned to Planned Parenthood to help me through a rough time when there was nowhere else to go. Without their support who knows where my life would have gone? Additionally, I have always given to the Downtown Women’s Center on skid row, and will continue to do so. Their organization helps women on the street, by giving them shelter, food and general aid in turning their lives around.
TW: Sending money to Planned Parenthood is my way of giving the finger to the misogynist who is in office now, and the other old white men in power who think it's okay to deny basic healthcare to 50% of the population. In gentler terms, donating here was an obvious choice; it's a touchstone in the history of women's reproductive rights and funding is being threatened. The ACLU is a leader in litigating against the barrage of executive orders we've seen since the inauguration and Ivy, who embroiders our vintage pieces, came up with the Resist tee to benefit that organization. She suggested the concept around the time of the first executive order that banned immigrants from seven mostly Muslim countries.
What do each of your messages mean to you?
TW: Nasty Woman is so personal. Of course we remember the presidential debate when those words were used to describe Hillary Clinton. I think most women know how it feels to be spoken of in that way by a man. We've all been there. The phrase was turned around immediately into a rallying cry and badge of honor. Yes, I am a Nasty Woman, and what? It's a little way to take the power back. Resist is another powerful word that has been used across a lot of issues associated with this administration. It describes what we're all doing. Say no, never, put up road blocks at every turn.
VWL: I decided to use the words Choose Love to combat the intense hatred I was seeing in our world since his election. It was a call for love above all other things, to choose love over hate and see what can happen. To me love is the most powerful force in the universe, and the only way to overcome the worldwide hostility that Trump has instilled. The strength of those two words helped me to believe again that no matter how small an act, anybody can make a difference in the world if they have love, even with everything around you crumbling.